Courtesy of Josh Brentan
When we applied for our marriage license last week, I gave Erica one last chance to decide to keep her name before I clicked "Send." She declined, and I was happy. It was important to me that she take my name, as I feel it signifies our becoming a unit and embarking on a new phase of our lives together.
But I realize that women have a different take on this than we menfolk do—so for the purposes of debate, I'll be presenting the male side, while Erica will represent the women. May the best blogger win!
The argument: "I don't want him to feel like I'm his property."
Me: What is this, the 1930s? Nobody, at least not any sensible person, thinks this way anymore. I'm glad we've got that settled. Now bring me a beer, woman!
Erica: The long historical tradition of surnames has meant that we are first our father's property, then our husband's. Those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it.
The argument: "Keeping my name makes me feel independent."
Me: If you do decide to change your name, we're not going to ask you to quit your job, lose your friends, or be tied to the bedpost (unless you're into that sort of thing). In a healthy relationship, each person should retain a good deal of independence—and none of that has anything to do with your last name.
Erica: Who is Josh to say what makes someone feel independent? He feels independent going to the movies by himself. Movies vs. changing your legal name—does one of those sound more substantial to you?
The argument: "It's too much of a hassle."
Me: It's true, there is a lot of paperwork associated with changing your name, but you don't have to do it all at once. After you get the major ones out of the way—Social Security, driver's license, passport, and bank accounts—the rest can be done at your leisure. Get your new husband to help by insisting that if he doesn't, you'll change his name to yours.
Erica: Your husband's sharing in these responsibilities might sound nice, but if most men are like the one I'm marrying, it definitely won't happen. Or if it does happen, it'll be at such a snail's pace that you'll wind up taking the reins yourself, purely for efficiency's sake.
Me: A totally valid argument, because nobody takes a call from someone whose name they don't know. I am not really a fan of the hyphen (so 1990s), but it can be useful in this case. After a while, people will associate you with both names, making the transition to a single name that much easier.
Erica: I would be suspect of this argument. It could just be a cover-up for the fact that she likes her maiden name better than her husband's. Would you want to trade in Carter for Federspielz? Neither would I!
The argument: "I don't care what you say. This is a misogynistic tradition, and I'm having no part of it!"
Me: Do what you want, but I'm still waiting on that beer!
Erica: You go, girl! (Tell him to get his own damn beer—and get one for you while he's at it.)
—Josh Brentan (and Erica London), The Groom With A View